Category: From Alliance for American Manufacturing

After Years in China, This American Manufacturer Made a Mighty Move

Jeffrey Bonior

Jeffrey Bonior Researcher/Writer, AAM

When Texas entrepreneur Jack Clark created a durable, lightweight utility cart in 1994, he built his first 1,000 carts in Houston.

By 1997, Clark moved production of his all-purpose movable carts to China. After all, isn’t this what most businesses were doing to increase profit margins?

After 11 years of dealing with the frustrations of manufacturing halfway around the world, Clark obtained a new set of plastic molds for the carts and moved production back to the United States.

Welcome home Jack.

Clark now builds his Mighty Max Carts in Dallas, where he was born and raised. A lifelong Texan, Clark rediscovered the Longhorn State mantra that you “Don’t Mess with Texas.”

“I’ve been doing this for 20-something years, and we sold about 50,000 to 60,000 of the Chinese carts, but we couldn’t replace the parts fast enough,” Clark recalled. “The carts would just finally collapse. This new American-made cart is awesome.

“In China, the first two or three thousand carts they made were fine, and then they just kept getting cheaper and cheaper in quality. I would be standing on the cart just showing someone how it works, and the handle would crack off in my hand.”

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Move to Missouri or Lose Your Job: GM Workers Facing Hard Choices

Matthew McMullan

Matthew McMullan Communications Manager, Alliance for American Manufacturing

Around here the best stuff is $16 an hour, an hour, hour and a half from my house. Anything else is nine to 11 dollars, and that just doesn’t cut it. When I was working that before I started at GM, my credit cards just kept getting fuller and fuller just trying to make it.”

So Lincoln Fegley, a northeast Ohio native who worked at General Motors’ Lordstown plant until the company mothballed it a few months ago, took the forced transfer notice he was handed and moved his family to Wentzville, Missouri where GM makes vans.  

That’s like 600 miles from his friends and family, and not an easy decision to make. But decisions like these are being made a lot. GM says it will provide positions for the 2,800 affected workers who want one, and says 1,700 of them have already done so.

Of course, though, it’s even more complicated than that: GM’s contract with the United Auto Workers (UAW) union is up, and negotiations on the next one begin in September. Reopening some of the plants GM closed in this round of restructuring is expected to be on the bargaining table.

So, if you’re an affected worker … what do you do? Volunteer to move?

Do sell your house, pack up your family, and move to a different time zone?

Or do you hope you don’t get a forced transfer notice (like the one Lincoln Fegley got)? Turn it down when it arrives and lose your unemployment benefits and the right to transfer to another GM plant closer to home?

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Biden’s Record Was in the Spotlight During the Second Democratic Debate, Including on Trade

Elizabeth Brotherton-Bunch

Elizabeth Brotherton-Bunch Digital Media Director, Alliance for American Manufacturing

Well, we made it.

The second night of the second Democratic presidential debates is in the books, and some key manufacturing issues did make it into the spotlight on Wednesday night in Detroit, including trade.

Although this go-around lacked some of the passion featured on the first night — Sens. Bernie Sanders (Vt.) and Elizabeth Warren (Mass.) are the two candidates who have made trade one of their top issues, after all — nearly everybody did mention it at some point. 

But it was frontrunner Joe Biden who got the most attention. The former vice president and longtime senator has the most substantial policy record of anybody in the race, and his rivals on Wednesday didn't hesitate to attack him on it on all fronts, including trade. And Biden made news, announcing he would "renegotiate" the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal, which President Trump pulled the United States out of on his first day in office. You'll recall, of course, that the TPP was negotiated under the Obama administration — which was when Biden served as vice president. So, Biden's flip-flop is a big f—ing deal.

Read on for more on what Biden said about trade and other manufacturing issues, as well as the remarks from all the other candidates who took part in Wednesday's debate.

Sen. Michael Bennet (Colo.): Moderator Dana Bash asked the Centennial State senator about technology's role in job displacement, and Bennet responded that the real issue is "how are we going to remain competitive? It's not just about trade... it's about whether we're going to invest in this country anymore." He then argued against the recent tax cuts and trillions of dollars spent in the Middle East, noting that "for all the money I've just described, we could have fixed every road and bridge in this country. We could have fixed every airport... We could have fixed not just Flint, but every water system in this country."

Former Vice President Joe Biden: On trade, Biden's record is mixed. As former President Barack Obama's vice president, he was a vocal supporter of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), but on Wednesday he said the deal must be renegotiated. And in 1993, he voted for the passage of NAFTA. But Wednesday night, Biden dodged a question about the Trump administration's efforts toward a NAFTA renegotiation, and backtracked on his earlier advocacy for the TPP. That flip-flopping aside, it is clear Biden thinks the United States should remain open to trade.

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The Dems Take the Motor City for Round One of the Debates, and Trade Comes Up

Jesús Espinoza Press Secretary, AAM

On Tuesday night, 10 of the 24 Democratic candidates—Montana Gov. Steve Bullock; South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg; former Rep. John Delaney (Md.); former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper; Sen. Amy Klobuchar (Minn.); former Rep. Beto O'Rourke (Texas); Rep. Tim Ryan (Ohio); Sen. Bernie Sanders (Vt.); Sen. Elizabeth Warren (Mass.); and author Marianne Williamson—faced off in the third of many Democratic primary debates to come of the 2020 cycle.

The first debate saw sparse mentions of manufacturing, trade or China. The second? A little better, but not enough. With Motown as the backdrop last night, though, things were a little different.

Leading candidates Warren and Sanders both hit hard on trade, with Warren arguing that “for decades we have had a trade policy that has been written by giant multinational corporations to help giant multinational corporations. They have no loyalty to America.” She also came out against the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), arguing it will lead to higher drug prices.

For his part, Sanders pointed out he voted against the original NAFTA agreement and Permanent Normalized Trade Relations with China (PNTR), and said as president he would stop giving military contracts to companies that do not employ U.S. workers to manufacture their products.

“If anybody here thinks that corporate America gives one damn about the average American worker, you're mistaken,” he said. “If they can save 5 cents to Mexico or China or Vietnam, that's what they'll do.”

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Detroit Provides the Right Backdrop for 2020 Democratic Candidates to Talk Manufacturing

Elizabeth Brotherton-Bunch

Elizabeth Brotherton-Bunch Digital Media Director, Alliance for American Manufacturing

We have a few ideas for what moderators should ask the candidates during this week's debates.

The second round of the 2020 Democratic presidential debates begin on Tuesday night in Detroit, and it’s make or break time for many of the candidates.

We’re looking at you, Bill de Blasio.

You might remember that last time around, trade and manufacturing didn’t come up all that much. On night two, some of the candidates shared their thoughts on standing up to China, and Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan talked about his ideas for factory job growth, but that’s about it.

While we’re sure there will be other timely topics to discuss this time around, we have a sneaking suspicion that trade and manufacturing will come up a bit more. Major trade talks between the U.S. and China are happening in Shanghai this week, after all, and so we can see moderators Dana Bash, Don Lemon and Jake Tapper offering a question or two on that.

But these debates are also happening in Detroit, a city that knows firsthand the devastation of unbalanced trade — along with the benefits that manufacturing still can create.

You might not call it a comeback, but it is clear that the Motor City is in the midst of a rebirth. Investment is pouring in, helping to revitalize downtown. Outside the city’s center, some of the Old Victorians that sat dilapidated for decades are getting new life.

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Eight Lessons America Can Learn from International Apprenticeship Programs

From the AAM

Apprenticeships are often touted as key to preparing the next generation of Americans for work in advanced manufacturing. While employers have hired about 536,000 apprentices since Jan. 1, 2017, it’s clear more can be done to strengthen these programs in the United States and attract more young people to careers in the skilled trades.

Other countries can offer a few lessons.

The House Committee on Education and Labor’s subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Investment held a hearing on Tuesday on apprenticeship programs in other countries to see what the United States can learn when trying to improve apprenticeship programs here.

Witnesses included Tim Bradley, the minister counsellor for Industry, Science, and Education at the Australian Embassy to the United States; Dr. Silvia Annen, a senior researcher at the Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training in Bonn, Germany; and Dr. Simon Marti, who the head of office for Swiss Core in Brussels, Belgium. Below are 8 takeaways from apprenticeship programs in Australia, Switzerland, and Germany.

Here are some of the takeaways.

1. Increased Federal Budget 

Switzerland spends 1 percent of its GDP on apprenticeships. That’s equivalent to $20 billion, or roughly two times the entire discretionary budget for the Labor Department. If the U.S wants to improve its apprenticeship program, it needs to allocate more money to this cause.

2. More Occupational Routes 

In Switzerland, apprentices can choose from roughly 230 different occupations, which cover all sectors of their economy.

3. Dual-System Program 

In Germany, apprentices can work on their craft in addition to a 4-year institution, or instead ofit. This creates a company and school-based system, leading to the lowest youth unemployment rate in the European Union.

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How Congress Can Address Climate Change, Create Jobs and Support U.S. Manufacturers

Elizabeth Brotherton-Bunch

Elizabeth Brotherton-Bunch Digital Media Director, Alliance for American Manufacturing

The House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis – a special Congressional panel established in 2019 with the mandate of exploring ways to address climate change – held a hearing on Tuesday that caught our eye.

Now, astute readers of this blog know that the Alliance for American Manufacturing is supportive of efforts to clean up our environment.

We think manufacturers can and should do their part to lower greenhouse gas emissions, and thankfully many already are stepping up to the plate. And we’ve also sounded the alarm about the link between trade and climate change, pointing out that when we depend countries like China for products big and small, we essentially are importing our pollution.

But anyway, back to the hearing, which examined how heavy-duty public transportation impacts the environment.

We were excited to see that Ryan Popple, the president and CEO of zero-emission battery-electric bus maker Proterra, Inc., was among the panelists. Founded in Colorado in 2004, Proterra is now headquartered in Silicon Valley and manufactures its buses at factories in the City of Industry, Calif., and Greenville, S.C. Proterra employs more than 500 people, and has made buses for communities in 36 states, the District of Columbia and even two Canadian provinces.

Proterra is an example of an American manufacturer that is tackling a problem head-on, working to reduce carbon emissions while also supporting job growth and local economic development. But that’s not what got our attention.

What did were the opening remarks from ranking member Garrett Graves. The Louisiana Republican echoed Chair Kathy Castor (D-Fla.), who said America “can lead the world with well-paying jobs as we transition to clean energy.”

And Graves also pointed out what we shouldn’t be doing:

“We had hearings in the transportation committee, where I also serve, where BYD, a Chinese bus manufacturer, was coming in -- and it appears to be a state-owned enterprise -- coming in and knocking out domestic bus manufacturers, and being subsidized by the Chinese government. Coming in and assembling buses in California, in some of our own communities, only to undercut price, knock out domestic production of those same types of vehicles, therefore giving China an advantage.”

AAM President Scott Paul testified at that hearing, and he noted that BYD’s business model is to assemble its buses in the United States, but heavily rely on imported parts and components. (Compare that to Proterra, which sources more than 75 percent of its materials in the United States, supporting jobs up and down the transportation supply chain.)

BYD now has set its sights on dominating world auto sales by 2025, which as Scott Paul noted “would threaten over 5,600 parts suppliers spread across the nation, employing 871,000 workers, the very heart of American Manufacturing.”

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House Acts to Block Federal Funding for Rail Cars Built by Chinese State-Owned Companies

Elizabeth Brotherton-Bunch

Elizabeth Brotherton-Bunch Digital Media Director, Alliance for American Manufacturing

A big step in the right direction.

The House of Representatives on Friday passed the annual spending bill for the Defense Department, and the legislation included language to block federal transit dollars from being spent on electric rail cars made by Chinese state-owned companies.

The provision included in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) passed by the House prohibits federal tax dollars from being used to award a contract or subcontract for the procurement of rail cars to be used in public transportation by state-owned or controlled companies from non-market economies like China.  

Although the NDAA passed on party lines, this specific legislation enjoyed bipartisan support, as it was originally sponsored by Reps. Harley Rouda (D-Calif.), Rick Crawford (R-Ark.), Scott Perry (R-Pa.), Kay Granger (R-Texas), Tim Ryan (D-Ohio), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.), Randy Weber (R-Texas) and John Garamendi (D-Calif.).

The NDAA now heads to conference with the Senate, which previously passed its version of the defense authorization bill that included a similar provision that applied to both rail and buses. Sens. John Cornyn (R-Texas), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) and Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) served as the original sponsors of the Transit Infrastructure Vehicle Security Act in that chamber.

Here at the Alliance for American Manufacturing, we encourage lawmakers to put forth a final NDAA conference report that includes the Senate version of this provision, as it applies to both types of public transit.

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Why Trump’s Reversal on Huawei is a Bad Deal

Elizabeth Brotherton-Bunch

Elizabeth Brotherton-Bunch Digital Media Director, Alliance for American Manufacturing

President Trump is back from his big weekend trip to the G-20 summit, where he met with world leaders and even made a quick stop in North Korea!

There’s no shortage of headlines from Trump’s trip, and there’s certainly a lot to unpack. But some Members of Congress are homing in on one in particular: Trump’s announcement that he will loosen restrictions on U.S. companies doing business with Chinese technology giant Huawei.

Schumer and Rubio — not a couple of guys you expect hang out much — aren’t alone in their criticism. A growing list of Republicans are speaking out against Trump’s decision, as are 2020 Democratic presidential contenders like Tim Ryan.

Political pundits don’t seem all that impressed, either. Over at Bloomberg, technology columnist Tim Culpan wrote that “as far as deals go, this is set to be one of Trump’s worst.”

Oof. Apparently feeling the heat, Trump administration officials are already scrambling to downplay Trump’s decision, with White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow saying that the easing of restrictions on Huawei will be for “general merchandise, not national security sensitive” products like chips and software.

There’s a lot of political posturing happening here, and if you aren’t completely tuned into this ongoing saga, you might be justifiably lost. Let’s break things down.

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OPINION: Trump Is Right on China Trade, But So Far Has Little to Show For It.

Scott Paul

Scott Paul Director, AAM

President Donald Trump is shortly flying to Japan to represent the United States at a G20 summit. While there he’ll meet with Chinese leader Xi Jinping on the gathering’s sidelines to restart trade talks, dormant since the White House accused China of backsliding from already negotiated commitments.

The stakes are appropriately high. These are bilateral talks between the world’s largest economies, after all, and securing a better deal for American industry than what his predecessors could achieve was one of Trump’s most emblematic 2016 campaign promises. Whether he’s successful will surely affect his 2020 reelection.

His administration was right to push back against China’s unfair trade practices. China for years has used these tools to benefit its homegrown industries over those of other nations, but previous White Houses and the multilateral approach they endorsed did very little to curtail them.

Now at least the parties have come to the table, even if they are temporarily standing away from it. The image of a tough negotiator that Trump cultivated for years – from The Art of the Deal to the Celebrity Apprentice to McDonald's commercials – has been buoyed by some real-world heft: Thanks in part to a forceful negotiating strategy led by U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and billions of dollars of tariffs raised on Chinese imports (not to mention the justified threat of billions more), the Trump administration has Beijing’s attention.

But we still don’t have a deal, and Trump doesn’t seem any closer to get us a good one. This agreement must rebalance a lopsided bilateral trade relationship, grant the U.S. industrial base the time to recover lost ground, immediately halt state-sponsored intellectual property theft, and address persistent overcapacity in export-oriented Chinese industries.

Few of us think about the impact of these Chinese policies on our nation. But it’s time to tune in.

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Corruption Coordinates

Corruption Coordinates

Union Matters

He Gets the Bucks, We Get All the Deadly Bangs

Sam Pizzigati

Sam Pizzigati Editor, Too Much online magazine

National Rifle Association chief Wayne LaPierre has had better weeks. First came the horrific early August slaughters in California, Texas, and Ohio that left dozens dead, murders that elevated public pressure on the NRA’s hardline against even the mildest of moves against gun violence. Then came revelations that LaPierre — whose labors on behalf of the nonprofit NRA have made him a millionaire many times over — last year planned to have his gun lobby group bankroll a 10,000-square-foot luxury manse near Dallas for his personal use. In response, LaPierre had his flacks charge that the NRA’s former ad agency had done the scheming to buy the mansion. The ad agency called that assertion “patently false” and related that LaPierre had sought the agency’s involvement in the scheme, a request the agency rejected. The mansion scandal, notes the Washington Post, comes as the NRA is already “contending with the fallout from allegations of lavish spending by top executives.”

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